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BMW: 20,000+ by 2015

Catch us if you can, says number one luxury car importer BMW

BMW logo17 Nov 2009

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

BMW Australia says it intends to sell 20,000 vehicles a year by 2015 – an increase of 3000 units or 17 per cent over the luxury importer’s current 17,000 units a year – to maintain luxury segment leadership in Australia.

Responding to Audi’s widely reported ‘Route 15’ plan to sell 15,000 vehicles in Australia by the middle of the next decade, BMW Group Australia managing director Stavros Yallouridis said Audi would still fall far short of his company’s planned volume.

“We are talking about 20,000-plus (versus 15,000 for Audi),” he said at the media launch of the MY10 6 Series update in Melbourne.

Mr Yallouridis also revealed that he had spent the first seven months since taking up the MD’s post in Australia taking a step back to assess the total BMW business.

“I’m not interested at looking at what Mercedes or Audi or Volkswagen are doing at the moment,” he said. “I’m building the foundations for BMW in Australia to go forward.

 center image Left: BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, centre BMW 3 Series, and Below BMW X3.

“(In some other countries with higher taxes) BMW has a four and a half to five per cent market share – (but) in Australia we are struggling to get two per cent at the moment, so why can’t we have a similar trend in Australia to some of the other countries in the world? “I took BMW in Greece from a 1.3 per cent market share to 3.8.”

Driving the volume increase for the Bavarians will be an influx of fresh metal – including the long-awaited arrival of the X1 compact SUV, next 5 Series-based GT and the new 5 Series range next year, followed by a completely redesigned 3 Series, 1 Series and X3 after that.

However, Mr Yallouridis said that having the newest and/or best product alone was not enough for BMW to achieve its sales ambitions.

“It’s not just the cars, it’s not just the product it’s a combination of many things," he said.

"You got to have the right people, you got to have the right infrastructure, you got to have the right distribution, you got to have the right policies, you got to have the right mentality – you got to have the right everything ... without them you can destroy the product.

“We have a very strong dealer network (with people that are) really very good, but what we have got to do now is take the next step and make some big changes – we have to give a new vision, a different strategy.

“If we want to reach for three per cent market share, you have a different strategy at three per cent than you do at two per cent.”

Mr Yallouridis claims that he hasn’t actually as yet set a market share goal, since he is still “touching and feeling” his way around.

Nevertheless, the former BMW Greece boss believes that BMW AG’s decision to place an Australian expat in charge is an opportunity to better-connect with local consumer tastes.

“It has to do with connections ... and being here,” he said.

“I think that being an Australian, and being brought up an Australian in Australia is pretty important. And I think BMW has made the right move bringing in a ‘local guy’ here.

“Because if you bring in a foreigner, maybe he won’t be as accustomed to the way things are done. We got to go to the next step, and we got to understand the people more, and I think the decision to bring in someone… with a bit of an international background (knowledge) of the company… will help (BMW) make that next step.

“But we take a calculate risk though. And if you can’t take that calculated risk then you just can’t get ahead.” While Mr Yallouridis acknowledges that Audi is a growing force in Australia, and even said that he would not engage his Audi counterpart Joerg Hofmann in a public slanging match about size and might, the BMW chief could not resist a cheeky riposte.

“They are a competitor,” he quipped (a direct reference to previous BMW Australia boss Guenther Seemann’s infamous 2007 comment that he did not see Audi as a serious rival to BMW), adding: “They are less important here than they are in some other countries, but we have to keep our eye on them.” With year-to-date volume up 18.5 per cent, Audi will break through the 10,000-unit barrier for the first time this month, but BMW – though down six per cent and struggling to catch its 2008 total of 17,263 sales by year’s end – will still finish up comfortably ahead.

“He’s interested in throwing quotes about BMW two can play the game but I’m not interested,” Mr Yallouridis said.

“We are the leaders in the world, we are the leaders in Australia (so) let them chase us!“We’re here to sell cars.”

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